Rated TV-MA for lots of language, some sexual humor, and a regular reference to cocaine addiction. It's not an overtly raunchy comedy, but it also doesn't shy away from that humor either. The most intense thing is the guest who keeps sneaking off to do drugs. That's played pretty regularly for humor. Also, there's the casual use of the word "roofie", not for sexual exploit, but to knock out a guest. TV-MA.
DIRECTOR: Dean Craig
I was so hopeful. My wife started watching this rom-com way too late. It was one of those choices that we both knew was going to lead to giving up. I've been on this reading kick lately and I set these goals for myself, so I thought that I could sit out watching the beginning of a rom-com that we wouldn't finish. Sure enough, we pulled the plug pretty quickly, but my wife was insistent that this would be one of the ones I would enjoy. Apparently, it made her actually laugh a few times. Okay, that's fine. We wanted to do a movie date night in quarantine, so we tried to figure out what the name of the movie was. For some reason, it wasn't showing up in her "Recently watched" queue. It's one of those rom-com problems with a generic title. Oddly enough, even though we got most of it wrong in the search, it still showed up. We were destined to watch this movie.
And for a while, my wife was right. The movie was actually pretty funny. It looked like it was going to be about Olivia Munn's character, and I think she's pretty solid in the stuff she's been in. I kinda / sorta recognized everyone else. The rest of the cast is compromised of actors who tend to play second fiddle in things. That's fine. In fact, it made the movie less distracting. There were a lot of moments where I found myself genuinely guffawing. It's a well-written funny movie...
...until the conceit.
See, that title, as forgettable as it is, is actually apt. There's a twist. The movie generously steals from Community's best episode, "Remedial Chaos Theory" mostly just once. The thing is, the movie doesn't really let us in on the joke until it happens. It teases it a bunch. There's a narrator who implies that the world is a crazy place and we're supposed to take that as foreshadowing. Okay, fine. I don't know if a movie like this needed a twist, but let's just pretend that it was a good decision. The setup plays out as such: You're watching a slapstick rom-com that takes place at a wedding. Through insane contrivances that actually play pretty well, everything goes wrong and a really goofy house of cards falls on itself. It's pretty hilarious. This is the majority of the film. At about the 60% mark, the narrator comes back and questions, "What if the characters at the table sat in different spots?" She implies that there's an astronomical number of combinations and we start playing with the multiverse.
I never thought I would discourage a film from dabbling in a multiverse, but Love Wedding Repeat should have stayed on Earth Prime. The primary storyline is so good. It's a really tight experiment in comic timing, creating such a strong comedy of errors that I wasn't interested in the other universes. The game when it comes to multiverse gags is that it has to get worse in each timeline. We get this very quick montage of potential other Earths that play out. There's enough context to figure out what is going on, even if we don't understand how the characters got to that point. But the narrator then teases that there's one universe where everyone ends up happy.
That's the trick, right? If all of these insane elements are in play: with one character destined to be sleepy, the cokehead at the table, a best man speech at varying degrees of preparedness, a girl-of-his-dreams sitting by various single men, that takes a lot of work to make happen. The joke could even be the skillful management of all of these pies in the air. Instead, Dean Craig decides to put the characters though another dog-and-pony show, one that mirrors the jokes of Earth Prime. The characters find themselves at low points all over again and we wonder, "How is this the best Earth?" And then Craig does the worst thing that this movie could have done: he makes them all better characters.
It's such a cheat. It's such a lame and dumb cheat that it kind of ruins the movie. I don't think I've ever been more charmed by the first half of a movie and more let down by the second half of a movie. Because one of the pies in the air is all of the characters imperfections. Jack is always burdened by taking care of his sister, who isn't amazing. He's also terrified of making the plunge. He can't just decide not to do that anymore without consequences. Even more so, Bryan is put of by Rebecca, who is annoying most of the movie. (It's hilarious. Aisling Bea might be my favorite performance of the film.) She never really lets up. But in this timeline, for no reason, she becomes just a smidge more vulnerable and earnest. Bryan is just more open to suggestion. They end up together. I'm not saying, "Don't let them end up together." I'm saying, find a reason besides, "They're just nicer in this seating arrangement." The biggest crime is that the Cokehead just decides to do the right thing. Every single timeline that is shown doubles down on the idea that Marc the Cokehead is a force of nature. He's so deep in a world of cocaine that he can't make rational decisions anymore.
But he does. Jack gives Marc almost the exact same speech he does in Earth Prime, just sleepier. Sure, he doesn't lock him in a wardrobe in this timeline. But Marc wasn't going to change his behavior when Jack was actually convincing. Sleepy Jack, who was barely there for the discussion, shouldn't have had that much of an impact. (Also, Jack's come and go sleepiness was lazy writing.) The thing about stuff like "Remedial Chaos Theory" and Love, Wedding, Repeat is that they live or die based on how the Butterfly Effect happens. By this point, we've all been inundated with the loosey-goosey understanding of the Butterfly Effect. It's something along the lines of "A butterfly flaps its wings in Central Park and there's typhoons in Japan". The concept, however, isn't meant to be A causes B. It's meant to imply that it's like dominos. Small changes compound, leading to big things. "Remedial Chaos Theory" shows exactly how that works. We see how the change of die roll affects every version of the timeline and its pretty genius.
Love, Wedding, Repeat, however, just takes a shortcut to the result it wants in a lot of cases. We start seeing how the timeline plays out differently, but the character changes bring them home. Every single character somehow becomes a better person without a direct tie to the external factors. In Earth Prime, Hayley accidentally kills her newlywed spouse after he found out that he cheated on her. In this one, apparently her growth was just the acknowledgement to herself that what she did was wrong without actually having to confess her infidelity. It's a weird "You're off the hook...just because."
I don't know how the guy who wrote such a first tight half to a slapstick comedy couldn't apply the same logic to the second half of the movie. Good slapstick and comedies of error requires some really impressive writing chops. Maybe it was the freedom to write a comedy of errors knowing that he didn't half to put it back together again. It's really easy to explode people's lives, but it is really hard to put them back together again. When we see him trying to put it together again, it feels like it was done with scotch tape and everything seems tentative. Dina has no reason to take Jack back. Jack doesn't even tell her what went wrong, but she's that open to Jack that they live happily ever after. It's also really weird that she didn't even realize that she was being paged to go to Mexico. Also, is Jack going to Mexico? There's so many questions.
This movie has the elements to be great, but the absolutely ramshackle way of trying to resolve conflicts is borderline lazy. This could have been a lot of fun, but --and I'm floored that I'm saying this --the multiverse element to the movie just ruins it.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.